If you work as a truck operator in chemical logistics, or for one of the chemical manufacturing companies of Alabama, you might not realize just how many risks you face each day. Following safe shipping procedures for hazardous chemicals is crucial, and violations of prescribed standards can have devastating consequences. Safety authorities prescribe a vast regulation network to which shipping companies and truckers who haul the dangerous loads across the country must adhere.
Safety in hazardous chemical transport is not only crucial to protect you as the truck driver but also your co-workers and members of the general public. Unfortunately, some employers prioritize profits and tend to disregard some of the safety standards.
Required safety strategies
You might not realize that you have the right to insist on a safe work environment that requires the following:
- Storage: The truck you drive and the storage facilities where you load and offload hazardous chemicals must comply with prescribed control measures. Separate storage regulations apply to different hazard classes like corrosives, flammables and other classifications.
- Training: Regardless of your skills as a big rig driver, you need specialized training before you handle any hazardous chemical — not only transport-related training but also storage as it applies to how to load the chemicals.
- Equipment: Fitted unique protective equipment for different chemicals is crucial for every truck that transports hazardous chemicals. These include EE-rated non-spark devices, static guards, padding and other protective devices to prevent explosions or spills.
- Testing: It is your employer’s duty to ensure that your training remains current, with updates on new rules and regulations, or new hazardous cargo.
Learning about the following typical dangers you will face every time you haul a load of hazardous chemicals might improve your chances of staying safe:
- Load requirements: Container types and storage compartments on the truck require careful planning for every load, based on the corrosive level, viscosity and density of each chemical type. For example, the jostling of denser liquids can cause you to lose control of the truck during a sudden stop — if not loaded correctly.
- Labeling: Incorrect labeling can have severe consequences, as can using the wrong containers for the different types of chemicals. Even if it does not affect you, it could cause damage at the destination if recipients receive improperly packed or labeled chemicals.
- Faulty equipment: Your vehicle must always be in perfect condition before each trip. Engine malfunctions, defective tires or leaking containers can cause serious accidents.
- Fatigue: Not recognizing the signs of fatigue might be the most significant risk you will face if you are a long-haul trucker, and the nature of your cargo makes it a deadly threat. You can refuse to comply with unreasonable schedules or deadlines.
- Road conditions: Be aware that a large pothole that could cause any other truck to fishtail could have catastrophic consequences if your hazardous chemical load hits it.
- Security: Hazardous chemicals are controlled substances, and as such, there will always be a security risk. Some chemicals could be possible ingredients in weapon making, and it will not be only your life at risk if it falls into the wrong hands.
Knowing the dangers for which to look out and taking safety precautions might not always protect you from harm. Accidents happen at any time, and they could leave you with mounting medical bills and lost wages. Fortunately, the Alabama workers’ compensation pays benefits to victims of on-the-job injuries. You could even use the services of an experienced workers’ comp attorney to help you obtain maximum applicable benefits.